Greener Hydrogen Production Brings Hydrogen Economy One Step Closer

An alternative technology enables the industrial production of hydrogen while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and producing valuable carbon as a by-product. Tiina Keipi developed this technology and studied its feasibility in her doctoral dissertation.

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Hydrogen

Hydrogen is widely used in the chemical industry and oil refining processes. Additionally, the production of biofuels is increasing the demand for hydrogen, especially in Finland. 

- In the long run, hydrogen economy could provide a sustainable alternative for the current energy system. In hydrogen economy, hydrogen is utilized as an energy storage and as a transport medium alongside with electricity, Keipi describes.

A vision for the future is to produce hydrogen through water electrolysis powered by renewable electricity. However, the electrolyser technology is still too expensive. Furthermore, the wide-scale application of the technology requires a significant increase in the generation capacity of renewable electricity.

- New solutions to reduce the emissions are required already in the near future in order to mitigate the effects of climate change, says Keipi.

In her doctoral dissertation, Tiina Keipi studied a technology whereby hydrogen and solid carbon are produced from natural gas at high temperatures. Storing solid carbon is much easier than storing gaseous carbon dioxide. According to Keipi’s analysis, the economic feasibility of this technology is highly dependent on the quality and application possibilities of the product carbon.

“The product carbon could be utilized as a reinforcing material and pigment in rubber and plastic industry, for example, in car tire manufacturing. The value of high-quality product carbon makes the technology economically competitive with other hydrogen production methods,” Keipi says.

Furthermore, Keipi provides tools for assisting the design of industrial scale processes. Keipi also created several alternative process concepts for applying the technology.

“According to the analysis, the technology is most suitable for decentralized mid-sized industrial hydrogen production that occurs near the end-user. This minimizes the transportation costs of the hydrogen,” concludes Keipi.

MSc (Tech) Tiina Keipi’s doctoral dissertation in the field of energy technology entitled `Technology development and techno-economic analysis of hydrogen production by thermal decomposition of methane’  is available online at:  http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-952-15-4069-1

R&D | 1.12.2017

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